Living close to the beach is fun for you but is tough for plants. Drought, searing sun, salt-laden winds, humid air, erosion, sandy soil – these are only some of the extreme conditions that coastal plants must survive in.
Luckily, there are some spectacular, hardy plants that are native to where you live. So, before planting anything in your garden, learn what species belong to your area!
As a rule of thumb, select ones that are resistant to drought, salt-tolerant, and water-wise. These plants will be the best choice for your low maintenance beach house garden.
In no particular order, these coastal plants are proven performers:
Campanulas are also called Bellflowers due to their unique, upturned, bell-shaped flowers.
These low-maintenance, hardy, alpine natives are ideal even for beginner gardeners as caring for Campanulas doesn’t require any expertise.
Plant them in well-draining, moderately moist soil for best flower production and in a sunny area. Soil conditions can be any pH level, including highly acidic.
Once established, these perennials will tolerate periods of drought, and a lot of extreme weather, and arid conditions.
Thus, they make a lovely addition to any garden situation you can think of, for example, coastal and rock gardens.
There are many varieties of Campanulas. The most common are Bluebells, Scotch Bluebells, American Bellflowers, “Pink Octopus”, Dwarf Bellflowers, Canterbury Bells, Dalmation Bellflowers, “Blue Waterfall”, and Fairies’ Thimbles.
Globe Thistle (Echinops) can be a wonderful addition to your perennial or cutting garden, adding a sharp texture in its leaves, upright stature, and the spiky, steel blue, golf ball-sized flowers.
Your beach house garden will thrive with life as Echinops attracts bees, butterflies, and birds. Dry and sandy soil is perfect for these plants. Once Echinops is established, it will perform well without any supplemental watering.
This incredibly low maintenance plant needs no fertilizing as it performs great in nutrient-poor soils. Mulch is also not necessary for Echinops as it does well in soils with low organic matter.
Yucca is ideal to grow in coastal areas as it is tough, salt-tolerant, and sun-loving. It can also tolerate some colder climates and no salt amendments are necessary. You must, however, plant it in a well-drained spot. It’s very drought tolerant but it will still benefit from occasional waterings, especially until it’s established.
Yucca is so low maintenance as fertilizer is optional and trimming is rarely needed except for removing dying leaves once in a while.
There are several varieties of Yucca to pick for your seaside garden, such as the classic “Spanish Bayonet” or other spineless varieties.
The summer climbing plant Lampranthus (Spectabilis), also called the Trailing Ice Plant, is a must-have for every coastal yard.
This low-growing groundcover requires no maintenance except for very little watering once established. Lampranthus will tolerate drought and minimal but well-drained soils. It is best grown in sunny or partly shaded spots.
The plant produces green-grey succulent style foliage all year round with large purple and coral flowers that bloom abundantly in late spring and summer.
African Iris (Dietes), also known as Fortnight Lily, Morea Iris, or Butterfly Iris, is a very easy to grow plant.
It’s pest resistant and produces a beautiful, pale yellow flower in the spring.
African Iris is very adaptable and might be planted in various mediums like moderately dry soils, wetlands, slightly alkaline, salty or acidic soil, and sand.
It stands up to hot sun and drought, tolerates negligence, and requires minimal maintenance.
Agave plant presents an excellent choice for truly low maintenance gardening. This amazingly tough plant is able to endure the extremes like sandy soil, hot sun, or dry conditions. As all Agave varieties are salt-tolerant, they do well in a beach yard.
Although Agave has been used as a food source (best known for being used to make Tequila), the thorns and sap contain skin irritant toxins. Thus, always wear gloves and safety glasses or sunglasses when handling or working around this plant.
Agave is extremely easy to grow and very drought tolerant, being a lover of the sunny coasts.
The many varieties of the Agave plant include:
Blue Agave (Agave Americana), a most common, spectacular plant with silvery-blue leaves. It can be planted as a centerpiece in rock or succulent gardens, or as an accent throughout your property’s landscape.
Caribbean Agave (Agave Angustifolia or “Marginata’”) is a beautiful plant with variegated, rounded, rosette-shaped leaves. This hardy accent plant calls for little to no maintenance. The Caribbean Agave is drought-tolerant and can be used in rock or succulent gardens, pots, and more.
You should also consider other types of Agave, such as the False, the Smooth, or the Twin-Flower Agave, as all of them require no maintenance and are drought tolerant.
Red Hot Poker
Add some exotic beauties to your seaside home garden. Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia) is extremely easy to grow. This impressive perennial offers strappy leaves, and bright, wand-like flowers that are beloved by hummingbirds.
Gardeners and landscapers are always pleased with their low maintenance that requires only the removal of older flower stalks and cutting back in spring.
It’s an ideal plant for salty soil, and it also tolerates drought very well although regular watering with a drying out period is preferred.
These plants are excellent performers in the heat. Red Hot Poker needs to planted in full sun and in moist, well-drained soil.
A tough perennial, also known as Great Blanket Flower, can be easily grown in seaside gardens when the proper conditions (full sun and well-drained soil) are provided.
Gaillardia (Gaillardia Aristata) has a variety of bright and cheerful colors, a really long bloom season (from summer until the first frost), and is a good pollinator as its flowers attract bees and butterflies.
Gaillardia’s maintenance is simple and straightforward and just involves cutting back perennial flower seed heads in the late fall.
It’s also resistant to drought, sun-loving, and thriving in sandy and salty soils of coastal areas.
Lantanas are commonly grown as sun-loving, flowering annuals, and perennials near the coast.
These are tough, resilient plants that thrive in hot weather and full sun. Established Lantanas are drought-resistant and tolerant of salty soil, thus, it is the ideal plant to grow along the beach in a seaside garden. Their brightly colored flowers bloom abundantly from spring to frost.
Lantana is an easy to care plant that likes moist, well-drained soil. Although it’s a very low maintenance plant, some problems may occur when in improper growing conditions such as too much shade or excessive fertilization.
The plant has several species:
Common Lantana (Lantana Camara) is the most widely grown species with a great number of cultivars.
Weeping Lantana (Lantana Montevidensis) has low, vinelike stems and grows lavender flowers.
Popcorn Lantana (Lantana Trifolia) is an unusual species grown primarily for the highly ornamental, elongated fruit clusters resembling an ear of corn.
Cuphea plants are valued not only for their attractive, summer-long flowers but also for the hummingbirds, butterflies, and nectar-feeding insects that swarm around them.
Cupheas are important in low maintenance, carefree gardens because they are rarely bothered by pests or diseases provided that they’re planted in full to partial sun and in moist, well-drained soil.
This peculiar annual blooms even in the hottest weather and in salty soil. Once established, it is drought-tolerant and also holds up well to drying winds, making it the ideal coastal plant.
Numerous garden Cuphea species are popular:
Cuphea Llavea (also called Bat Face Cuphea, Cigar Plant, Tiny Mice, Bunny Ears) should be grown in full sun, is drought-resistant but best if watered regularly.
Cuphea IgneaImage (commonly called Cigar Plant, Cigarette Plant, Firecracker Plant, Cigar Flower) prefers bright sun, moisture, and is tolerant of short dry spells.
Alliums, also called Ornamental Onions, are easy to grow and they come back yearly with almost no maintenance. These bulbs aren’t too picky, and in most cases, they grow in full sun and average soil that needs good drainage. Thus, a sandy place will be perfect for them.
Available in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and magnificent colors, they brighten up beach gardens with beautiful blooms during the warm months.
Some of the unusual Allium species include:
The Jeannine Golden Onion, Giant Onion, and Turkestan Onion peek out in late spring.
Tumbleweed Onions have infertile flowers that shoot out, giving the effect of fireworks.
The summer-flowering Nodding Onions display lots of diversity.
The Blue Globe Onion bulb loves to grow in hot and dry conditions.
Black Onion is a summer star-shaped bulb.
Drumstick Allium is an egg-shaped flower.
Hair Allium, with its many thin, tentacle-like green flowers, looks like it put its roots in an electric socket. If you mix Hair Allium with other plants that are boring and this weird-looking plant will catch everyone’s attention.
The very cool plant, Circle Onion has blue-green leaves that give a corkscrew effect.
The Stars of Persia is yet another allium with the WOW factor, it is tall and needs full sun.
Ozawa Allium, this Japanese onion blooms as soon as the fall begins.
The popular flowering perennial, Daylily is available in a wide variety of flower shapes, bright colors, shades, and growth habits. The petals and flower buds are edible.
Daylilies can be planted any time of year. They are categorized into 3 groups, deciduous, semi-evergreen, and evergreen, according to their growth habits.
Raising daylilies is fairly simple and once established, they need only minimum care.
They will thrive anywhere they’re planted. When in sandy soil, just add 2 to 4 inches (5-10cm) of peat moss and then work it into a 6 to 8 inches (15-20cm) depth.
Daylilies will resist the longest of dry spells and have a remarkable heat tolerance.
Coneflowers, also known as Echinacea, are very tough, trouble-free, and drought-tolerant once established.
These little native flowers with prickly stems will draw a variety of birds, butterflies, and bees to your beach yard, adding the most desired color and motion to the landscape.
Coneflowers can take the heat, drought, and are tolerant to all weather conditions as well as pests.
They are easy to grow and require no attention other than an annual clean up in the fall. For best results, grow them in full sun with well-drained soil.
These adaptable plants can tolerate partial shade and a wide range of conditions including sandy, rocky, and clay soils.
The most common species available for gardens is the purple coneflower, Echinacea Purpurea.
Goldenrod (Solidago) is an easy to grow and care for, hardy and drought-resistant perennial that’s perfect for seaside gardens.
With magnificent sprays of tiny yellow flowers, goldenrod is an abundant source of nectar for bees and other insects, with sugar concentrations as much as 33 percent.
Goldenrods beautifully brighten up the garden in late summer and early fall.
There are 77 species that are native to the US and Canada, and although each species is unique, some characteristics are common to all Goldenrods.
There’s no need to perform maintenance apart form removing an occasional stray stem. One-time maintenance in late fall or winter after bloom is finished will be enough.
It is best to grow Goldenrods in full sun or partial shade.
Large Ornamental Grasses
There are many species of large Ornamental Grasses and most of them require no care, other than a yearly trim back and a thinning every 5 years.
There is increased popularity of Ornamental Grasses due to a number of reasons: adaptability, low maintenance, and attractive looks, among others.
For easy care around the grasses, place a layer of weed-prevention landscaping fabric, then scatter pebbles, rocks, clam shells, or mulch on top to create an appealing weed control layer.
Ornamental Grasses add texture, movement, and all-season color to the yard while providing habitat, food source, and protection for pollinators and wildlife.
These decorative perennial grasses are versatile enough to tolerate sun and drought, many types of soil conditions, and garden locations. Thus, they are perfect for difficult areas with rocky or sandy soils, poor drainage, slopes, or excess of sun or shade.
Large Ornamental Grasses come in lots of varieties so there’s something for everyone:
The clumping, heat and drought-tolerant ”Gold Band” pampas is the best of the grass family, preferring full sun and fertile, well-drained soil. Gold Band can handle coastal conditions, too.
Autumn Moor Grass tolerates a wide variety of soils and heat. It can be put to almost any use, no matter if used individually or in masses.
Atlas Fescue makes a great, sturdy ground cover, one of the most reliable grasses for creating drought-resistant meadows. It grows in a wide variety of soils and is best in all but hot, humid, and low desert climates.
Other Ornamental Grasses include the Vetiver with unique leaf tips; the blue-foliaged Boer Love Grass; one of the most adaptable Berkeley Sedge; Ruby Grass offering amethyst-pink fluffy plumes; a tough-performer Mexican Feather Grass; and the independent Wright’s Dropseed.
Silver Lace Vine
Growing these vigorous, deciduous to semi-evergreen vines is easy for just about anyone as they are adaptable and require very little care once established. Silver Lace Vine (Polygonum Aubertii) is a reliable performer, not overly picky about the soil type or climate, and can grow up to 12 feet (3.6m) in one year.
The beautiful, fragrant white flowers adorn this plant in the summer and fall, while it’s twisting its way around fences, arbors, trellises, or porch columns.
It will continue to rebloom in late spring and fall, and because it is so lush, it can quickly become invasive in some places unless growth is restricted or contained. Silver Lace Vine is a drought-tolerant plant and resistant to pests and disease, once established.
You will enjoy this stunning addition to your yard with many birds and butterflies fluttering around as the vine is attracting beneficial pollinators.
Pride of Madeira
The fast-growing shrub, Pride of Madeira (Echium Candicans), is evergreen, drought and salty winds resistant. It’s perfect as a foundation in a seaside garden.
Its flowers are not fragrant but full of nectar and thus, they are often revisited by bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, and birds.
These plants require practically no maintenance, no pruning or deadheading, just let them grow and water once in a while and they will grow gorgeous inflorescences and lush foliage.
Just like succulents, the Pride of Madeira has low water needs and grows best in full sun, and in dry and poor soils. This is because this ornamental shrub is native to Mediterranean climates.
Gold Dust Basket Of Gold
Gold Dust Basket Of Gold (Aurinia Saxatilis) is a beautiful little plant that is low-growing, dense, with fine texture. It attracts plenty of bees and butterflies to a seaside garden.
This herbaceous, evergreen perennial is relatively low maintenance, and should only be cleaned up in early spring before it begins actively growing in summer.
Gold Dust Basket Of Gold is best in full sunlight, doesn’t require any specific soil type or pH, and is very adaptable to both dry and moist soil conditions. However, it doesn’t tolerate any standing water, which makes it a perfect choice for a low-water or xeriscape garden applications.
Carpobrotus (Carpobrotus Edulis) is a hardy, trailing perennial that grows flat forming a dense mat near the ground.
Carpobrotus leaves are succulent, and fruits are edible, fleshy, and indehiscent.
People have been eating fresh Carpobrotus fruits since ancient times even though they have a strong, sharp, salty, and sour taste.
The Carpobrotus leaf juice is a mild antiseptic, and when mixed with water and swallowed, it’s capable of relieving diarrhea, dysentery, or stomach cramps. The juice can also be chewed or used as a gargle to treat a sore throat, laryngitis, and mouth infections.
This succulent groundcover is easy to grow and is perfect for low maintenance and water-conserving yards.
These flowers are loved especially by kids because they are very easy to care for, and the giant-sized seeds can be easily handled.
Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum Majus) are low maintenance annual plants. You can grow them wherever they will get enough sun, just remember about regular routine watering. This plant will tolerate almost any type of soil and will not need any fertilizer.
Nasturtium is a groundcover that can pile up with bloom or climb with vines reaching 3 to 5 feet (1-1.5m) long.
Their rounded dark green leaves and bright orange, yellow, and reddish flowers attract bees and hummingbirds.
Nasturtium flowers are edible and can be enjoyed as a delightful decoration of cakes and pastries.
Felicia (Felicia Amelloides), also known as Blue Daisy or Blue Marguerite, is a hardy annual that might be grown in most climates. However, in hot climates, it usually stops blooming when it gets too hot in midsummer.
Blue Daisy flowers produce vivid, sky blue petals with bright yellow centers that attract butterflies.
Despite looking somewhat fragile, it’s a durable and pest-resistant plant that requires very little maintenance. It doesn’t like soil that’s too wet, so water it sparingly to keep the soil slightly moist until the roots are grown. Once established, an occasional watering of the plant is sufficient for healthy growth.
When choosing plants for your beach house garden, make sure to pick only those seeds, bulbs, and plants that can thrive in your climate and specific location.
As determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, all plants have been divided into zones (proximity to the ocean) in which they are able to survive or tolerate the severity of conditions. Here is the direct link to the USDA Hardiness Zones map.
If you live in a coastal area, you must familiarize yourself with the zone you are in to be able to happily grow the plants in your beach yard. The right plants that are adapted to your area will make your garden more beautiful, healthy, and low maintenance.